Mixed martial artist Tito Ortiz takes on new opponent: Texting while driving
Just like he pounds his opponents, mixed martial artist Tito Ortiz is pounding home this message: Don’t text and drive.
“I was taking a day off from training and driving in my Rolls-Royce Phantom, my pride and joy, and I looked down at my phone for literally one second because I had a text — and I crashed my Phantom,” Ortiz writes in a blog post for ESPN.com. “Seriously, kids, don’t text and drive.”
|Tito Ortiz says auto insurance won’t cover $45,000 worth of damage to his Rolls-Royce.|
The wreck occurred in California, which prohibits texting while driving. However, the Automobile Club of Southern California says that since the texting ban took effect in 2009, the number of drivers who’ve been seen texting actually has risen.
Ortiz, a UFC fighter known as “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy,” says the crash was an expensive lesson. The Rolls-Royce is worth $300,000; the wreck caused about $45,000 worth of damage.
The damage isn’t being covered by auto insurance, but it’s not clear why. In a Twitter message, Ortiz says money for repairs “will come out of my pocket.”
“I let my attention slip for one second … I just couldn’t believe what I’d done. The grill was totaled. The headlights were done. The hood was mangled up. It was a really, really expensive mistake,” Ortiz writes on ESPN.com.
Ortiz says he cried over the three-car crash, which happened in late July in Costa Mesa, Calif.
“There will be some guys reading this going ‘Really? Tito cried over a fender bender?’ but I know other guys will understand a man’s love for his vehicle,” he writes. “That’s my pride and joy. I love that car. I worked so hard to get that car. That’s a unique vehicle and I was so dumb to look at my phone.”
Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia prohibit texting while driving, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Yet a poll conducted in October 2010 for InsuranceQuotes.com found that 39 percent of licensed U.S. drivers age 18 and above had sent or received a text message while driving.
Distracted driving — including texting while driving — was reported in one-fifth of U.S. injury accidents in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.